With unknown abstract art, it can be fun and occasionally enlightening to play the game of looks-like-what. The paintings of Dimitri Pavlotsky remind me of 1980s Frank Stella, if Stella had been using only acrylic on a standard canvas; de Kooning, up close and at his angriest; and a bit of Brice Marden, at least for those lovely loops. Most revealingly, perhaps, are the moments where the great British painter Howard Hodgkins comes to the fore, because Hodgkins was a memoirist who daubed all the way to the tips of his frames, and Pavlotsky’s got something similar going on. In Venturing Out, a virtual solo exhibition hosted on his artist website, Pavlotsky displays canvases from both 2019 and 2020, and the differences record an aesthetic response to the pandemic that is fascinating to observe. Everything is dazzlingly colorful and dizzyingly busy, but the works from before respect their edges, contain themselves, arrange their brushwork into lyrical passages; those done in lockdown and afterward are painfully cacophonic, jarringly all-over, looking as much like fragments as they do the picture of chaos that is the U.S. right now.
—Lori Waxman 2021-01-06 11:10 AM